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Old 12-02-2007, 12:27 PM
 
14 posts, read 106,286 times
Reputation: 14

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Hi,

I recently signed a 6-month lease to move into a place. It's a seperate back-house kind of a unit in a private home and the owner manages it through a real estate broker (Affiliated to Calif assoication of realtors CAR).

Due to some reasons, I was unable to move in to the unit on Dec 1 as I had agreed upon. I informed the owner and the agent on Nov 30th (a day before lease commencement) that I will not be able to move in.

Now the agent tells me that since I have signed an agreement I am responsible for all monthly payments until they find another tenant to move in. Now, thats a lot of money for me considering I'd have to pay rent elsewhere as well and they haven't found a person to stay there in the last 6 months. Also, they are unwilling to refund my security deposit.

What have I gotten myself into? Am I in deep trouble or is there any way out?

I have heard that in California there is a minimum cooling off period to settle into a new place before which you can break the lease. But I am not sure though..

Can some seniors out there please guide me? This is urgent...PLS HELP if you can

Thanks so much!
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Old 12-02-2007, 12:54 PM
 
2,573 posts, read 7,876,156 times
Reputation: 2558
Quote:
Originally Posted by reggae2kool View Post
Hi,

I recently signed a 6-month lease to move into a place. It's a seperate back-house kind of a unit in a private home and the owner manages it through a real estate broker (Affiliated to Calif assoication of realtors CAR).

Due to some reasons, I was unable to move in to the unit on Dec 1 as I had agreed upon. I informed the owner and the agent on Nov 30th (a day before lease commencement) that I will not be able to move in.

Now the agent tells me that since I have signed an agreement I am responsible for all monthly payments until they find another tenant to move in. Now, thats a lot of money for me considering I'd have to pay rent elsewhere as well and they haven't found a person to stay there in the last 6 months. Also, they are unwilling to refund my security deposit.

What have I gotten myself into? Am I in deep trouble or is there any way out?

I have heard that in California there is a minimum cooling off period to settle into a new place before which you can break the lease. But I am not sure though..

Can some seniors out there please guide me? This is urgent...PLS HELP if you can

Thanks so much!
you signed a lease. pray they find a new tenant quickly, because that it when your legal obligation to pay rent will end.
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Old 12-02-2007, 01:06 PM
 
27,078 posts, read 54,306,589 times
Reputation: 21277
I'm not trying to be difficult... but, what you were told is generally correct regarding your responsibility for the term of the lease. The exceptions are limited and typically would come into play if the owner material failed to perform his obligation under the lease.

Contract law is very specific because it is a two way street. In other words, the Landlord is bound by the lease as well. He does not have the right to cancel your lease because something came up on his end without being liable to you.

On the bright side, the owner MUST attempt to mitigate the potential loss by making reasonable and good faith efforts to secure a replacement renter under the same terms and conditions of the original lease. In other words, he is not entitled to collect double rent.

Perhaps, you can sublet or help by locating a replacement tenant?

Your maximum liability is limited to the lease term of 6 months. Your security deposit is refundable in full if the unit is returned to the owner in the same condition, allowing for normal wear and tear and provided there is no outstanding rent owing.
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Old 12-03-2007, 07:58 AM
 
14 posts, read 106,286 times
Reputation: 14
Thanks a lot for your quick responses people. I was just wondering, isn't there something to protect a person who has to terminate a contract even before its commencement?

My old apt manager, who is a friend, keeps telling me she've heard of a "cooling off" period (only in California) where by the person moving into an Apt is allowed a minimum amt of time before which they can cancel the contract.
But I have no way of making sure...

Thanks neways guys..
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Old 12-03-2007, 11:56 AM
 
27,078 posts, read 54,306,589 times
Reputation: 21277
Might she be referring to Time Share Sales or Door to Door Solicitors?

I'm not aware of any Cooling Off period for Residential Leases.
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Old 12-03-2007, 12:40 PM
 
Location: La Crescenta, CA
418 posts, read 1,583,895 times
Reputation: 333
From an "ask an expert" type article in the SF Chronicle:

Q: Recently my mother signed a lease and gave a deposit for an apartment but then decided it was not the right choice for her. She contacted the landlord within two days (orally) and gave a written letter within three days. They said it was fine and then changed their minds and wish to hold her to the lease. Is there a cooling-off and rescission period for leases?

Kellman replies: Generally, there is no cooling-off period for leasing real property. Once a lease is signed by the landlord and tenant and a copy is delivered to both parties, it becomes a valid contract.

Changing your mind within three days of signing it will not terminate the contract.

Now, in your mother's case, the landlord said the lease termination was "fine." While technically, that may be an oral termination of the lease, it will be hard to prove. It is always better to get such agreements in writing.

Looking beyond that oral agreement, there may be grounds to rescind or "break" the lease based on your mother's decision that the unit was not right for her. For example, if the unit was misrepresented as being something it is not or having something it does not have, she may declare a rescission of the contract. Further, if the unit significantly fails in the stated rental value of the unit becuase of defects or other problems, she may also declare a rescission.

A valid rescission will terminate her obligations under the contract and even give her rights to claim damages. In cases of rescission, you must set forth the grounds in a written notice of rescission to the landlord and return the keys as soon as possible. As always, before taking any such action, seek legal assistance to protect your rights.

Landlord attorney James McKinley replies: As Steve says, there is no cooling-off period after signing a residential lease.

When you sign a lease, you have signed a binding contract. Unless the landlord signed a document agreeing to terminate the lease, the lease remains in effect. Most leases state that the lease may not be modified orally and that any modification must be in writing for it to be valid.

Unless the landlord made some misrepresentation with respect to getting your mother to sign the lease, or there is some hidden defect in the property, it will be difficult for your mother to break the lease. Presumably, your mother had a chance to inspect the property prior to signing the lease, and if there were no problems then, it would seem suspicious if there are problems now, especially given the fact that she has not moved into the property.

Try negotiating a termination of the lease with the landlord, rather than unilaterally declaring the lease rescinded.
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Old 12-03-2007, 01:50 PM
 
14 posts, read 106,286 times
Reputation: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumerian Feast View Post
From an "ask an expert" type article in the SF Chronicle:

Q: Recently my mother signed a lease and gave a deposit for an apartment but then decided it was not the right choice for her. She contacted the landlord within two days (orally) and gave a written letter within three days. They said it was fine and then changed their minds and wish to hold her to the lease. Is there a cooling-off and rescission period for leases?

Kellman replies: Generally, there is no cooling-off period for leasing real property. Once a lease is signed by the landlord and tenant and a copy is delivered to both parties, it becomes a valid contract.

Changing your mind within three days of signing it will not terminate the contract.

Now, in your mother's case, the landlord said the lease termination was "fine." While technically, that may be an oral termination of the lease, it will be hard to prove. It is always better to get such agreements in writing.

Looking beyond that oral agreement, there may be grounds to rescind or "break" the lease based on your mother's decision that the unit was not right for her. For example, if the unit was misrepresented as being something it is not or having something it does not have, she may declare a rescission of the contract. Further, if the unit significantly fails in the stated rental value of the unit becuase of defects or other problems, she may also declare a rescission.

A valid rescission will terminate her obligations under the contract and even give her rights to claim damages. In cases of rescission, you must set forth the grounds in a written notice of rescission to the landlord and return the keys as soon as possible. As always, before taking any such action, seek legal assistance to protect your rights.

Landlord attorney James McKinley replies: As Steve says, there is no cooling-off period after signing a residential lease.

When you sign a lease, you have signed a binding contract. Unless the landlord signed a document agreeing to terminate the lease, the lease remains in effect. Most leases state that the lease may not be modified orally and that any modification must be in writing for it to be valid.

Unless the landlord made some misrepresentation with respect to getting your mother to sign the lease, or there is some hidden defect in the property, it will be difficult for your mother to break the lease. Presumably, your mother had a chance to inspect the property prior to signing the lease, and if there were no problems then, it would seem suspicious if there are problems now, especially given the fact that she has not moved into the property.

Try negotiating a termination of the lease with the landlord, rather than unilaterally declaring the lease rescinded.
Thanks so much!!! Though its not what I wanted to hear but you made it really clear for me now. I hope I'll be able to do something to reduce my financial liability.

A final question: the lease agreement says I can't sublease the unit. Does that mean I can't even put an ad in craigs for renting this unit to someone else? I mean, I'd have that someone go through the owner of course.
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Old 12-03-2007, 07:26 PM
 
1,023 posts, read 3,041,187 times
Reputation: 272
Quote:
Originally Posted by reggae2kool View Post
Thanks a lot for your quick responses people. I was just wondering, isn't there something to protect a person who has to terminate a contract even before its commencement?

My old apt manager, who is a friend, keeps telling me she've heard of a "cooling off" period (only in California) where by the person moving into an Apt is allowed a minimum amt of time before which they can cancel the contract.
But I have no way of making sure...

Thanks neways guys..
You might be talking about the 15 day right of recission in buying condos.
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Old 12-03-2007, 07:27 PM
 
1,023 posts, read 3,041,187 times
Reputation: 272
Quote:
Originally Posted by reggae2kool View Post
Thanks so much!!! Though its not what I wanted to hear but you made it really clear for me now. I hope I'll be able to do something to reduce my financial liability.

A final question: the lease agreement says I can't sublease the unit. Does that mean I can't even put an ad in craigs for renting this unit to someone else? I mean, I'd have that someone go through the owner of course.
No, you can not secure any type of tenant. That would technically be subletting. You can however, put an ad out there that refers people to your landlord if they are interested...not through you. You should tell him you are willing to do that, and see what his reaction is. Always kill more flies with honey......
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Old 12-03-2007, 11:23 PM
 
14 posts, read 106,286 times
Reputation: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by LewLew View Post
No, you can not secure any type of tenant. That would technically be subletting. You can however, put an ad out there that refers people to your landlord if they are interested...not through you. You should tell him you are willing to do that, and see what his reaction is. Always kill more flies with honey......

Thanks a lot LewLew! Lemme try this one out...

Thanks everyone...
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